He makes beautiful things,
He makes beautiful things out of dust . . .
He makes beautiful things,
He makes beautiful things out of us.
Don't you just love a Women's Retreat! I look forward to them whenever I have the opportunity to attend one. Such an opportunity had been greatly anticipated for the first weekend in November except for a most disagreeable lady named Sandy Storm who leveled the New Jersey shoreline causing our church's ladies' retreat at the elegant and historic Flander's Hotel on the Ocean City Boardwalk to be unceremoniously canceled! Something about flooding, no power, and beaches washed away.
Our poor shoreline communities are still in much need of prayer and repair as we come into the new year some three months after the fact.
To that end, it was decided to take the lionshare of preparations made for November's two day event and pack it into a one day event with continental breakfast and luncheon at our originally planned location - Ocean City sustaining minimal damage and the Flanders unmarked!
Victorian/Edwardian elegance greeted us as we entered the historic landmark's second floor landing where our luncheon was set up in one of the smaller - but no less opulent - dining halls.
Our retreat committee puts a lot of effort into the decor and aesthetics of the event every year including sweet favors for all the ladies. This year we had our pick of miniature purses chock full of chocolate kisses - with plenty of pink to be seen among the bling!
The purse display was set up in front of one of the three stunning wall murals with - more pink!
I chose a sweet piece with pinks and teal and silver shimmer sequins - displayed here with my favorite part of the retreat - our personal bookmarks!
Every year, a committee of women pray for each of the ladies signed up to attend and choose a specific verse just for them that is drafted into a keepsake bookmark. I have to say, every year the scripture chosen for me has been a direct hit! So, too, this year's scripture is central to where my heart is at present. God is sooooo good!!
Table centerpieces were clever - handbags filled with teal and moss green florals . . .
Plus a selection of symbols illustrating our theme from one of God's LOVE LETTERS in 1 John 5:21 . . .
"Dear children, keep yourself from idols."
The centerpiece purses held a variety of items that might connect with idols in our lives such as gossip magazines for pop culture; make-up and fashion for the excess attention paid to our outer shell image; a desk caddy full of pens and pencils to suggest the place our work might take in our life; and chocolate.
However, as our speakers for the morning took the podium, the message was clear: Do not allow the voices and choices in the world to unseat the Lord from His throne in your life! Anything that occupies your mind and time over that of the Lord is - Biblically speaking - an idol in your life.
A short opening devotional thought by Linda got the ball rolling. She reminded us of the Lord's admonishment in Romans 12:2 regarding the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus.
I was reading along in my English Standard Version and really liked the translation:
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Brenda took the podium with a number of illustrations from her own life to continue the theme.
She challenged us to "look in the mirror" and consider whom we are reflecting on the front lines of life - especially in our storms . . .
With a checklist of how to walk out God's truth in our life and keep those idols of self at bay . . .
With a generous sense of humor and enthusiasm, Diane brought a further challenge - do not neglect personal devotions and quiet time with the Lord - daily - in your "secret place".
She brought a word study on each of the words in the 1 John verse that connected to Brenda's study.
What I loved about Diane's study was her detailed teaching about Eve falling for the lie of the serpent in Genesis 3. She believed a lie - eating the fruit of idols - and gave that lie authority in her life. Eve sinned, felt shame, and "hid" from the Lord. The word "hid" in the Hebrew carries an interesting meaning - to "stomp out a fire".
WOW! Loved this picture: Sin brings shame and stomps out the fire of God in one's life!
I guess the best follow up to such a thought was a favorite worship song among the ladies as quoted at the outset of this post:
He makes beautiful things -
He makes beautiful things out of dust (ashes);
He makes beautiful things -
He makes beautiful things out of us (rekindled fire).
Now, of course, luncheon would be nothing without - lunch. I had the chicken - delish! And a superb salad - and to die for chocolate mousse cake for dessert. Problem is - I was so distracted by the actual eating of said luncheon, that I completely forgot about capturing it on film for all and sundry to drool over in Blogland.
Sorry! Suffice to say - it was thoroughly enjoyed. Time to clean up and drive back to town.
Now - we wait til November for our next annual retreat that will, hopefully, not be postponed and shortened due to anymore storms! Many thanks to all the precious sisters in the Lord who worked so hard and prayerfully to bless so many hearts.
Sharing A Love Letter and Ladies' Luncheon with Beverly on Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.